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Giro stage 2 – Live updates

1:45 p.m. -- Good Morning USA. We are now a bit more than an hour into today's stage, a 209-kilometer race from Cologne in Germany to the home of one of the year's great classics, Liege in Belgium. It is pleasant under sunny skies. There has been no rain forecast and only a very moderate breeze, so the weather shouldn't be much of a factor today. There hasn't been a ton of action yet today, though there have been a couple of breakaway attempts. The first was reeled in fairly quickly and right now Belgian Thierry Marichal, (Lotto-Adecco) is 1:25 ahead of the main field. He's been out there

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1:45 p.m. — Good Morning USA. We are now a bit more than an hour into today’s stage, a 209-kilometer race from Cologne in Germany to the home of one of the year’s great classics, Liege in Belgium.

It is pleasant under sunny skies. There has been no rain forecast and only a very moderate breeze, so the weather shouldn’t be much of a factor today.

There hasn’t been a ton of action yet today, though there have been a couple of breakaway attempts. The first was reeled in fairly quickly and right now Belgian Thierry Marichal, (Lotto-Adecco) is 1:25 ahead of the main field. He’s been out there since kilometer 16, but the pace has been fairly moderate — in the 35kph range

1:55 p.m. — Lotto’s Thierry Marichal was caught up at the 32km mark. Though he was quickly replaced off the front by teammate Ief Verbrugghe, who now has a 1:10 advantage on the field.

2:00 p.m. — Ief Verbrugghe remains about a minute ahead of the field. He is being pursued by two riders — Hector Mesa Mesa(Formaggi Trentini) and Freddy Gonzalez Martinez (Colombia-Selle Italia) — at about 30 seconds.

It looks as though Verbrugghe may earn himself a few climbers’ points along the way as a climber’s hot spot is coming up in a few kilometers.

2:11 p.m. — The two pursuers caught up with Verbrugghe in time for the mountain sprint — the Kleinhau — and it was Gonzalez Martinez who took the first spot, followed by Verbrugghe and Mesa Mesa.

2:20 p.m. — Race radio reports that two riders — Cédric Fragnière (Phonak) and Saulius Ruskys (Gerolsteiner) — have left the race.

That of course brings the number in the field down to 194, following the withdrawal yesterday of Michele Bartoli (Fassa Bortolo) after he was injured in that crash in the last 3km of the race. Bartoli’s teammate Slovenian Gorazd Stangelj broke his collarbone during the prologue on Saturday and left soon after actually finishing the stage — more than five minutes off the winner’s time.

2:27 p.m. — The three leaders — Ief Verbrugghe (Lotto), Hector Mesa Mesa(Formaggi Trentini) and Freddy Gonzalez Martinez (Colombia-Selle Italia)– remain about 1:10 ahead of the field at the 83km mark.

2:34 p.m. — Verbrugghe is serious about this break and has moved off ahead of his two companions — Mesa Mesa and Gonzalez Martinez — and is now 3:30 up on the field.

Martinez was soon caught, but Mesa Mesa remains about 1:00 ahead of the field.

2:46 p.m. — Verbrugghe and mesa Mesa have rejoined forces and are now well 4:00 up on the field.

2:55 p.m. — Race officials report that the average speed for the first two hours of racing today was a moderate 37.8kph.

Verbrugghe and Mesa Mesa maintain a 4:44 lead over the field.

2:55 p.m. — Race officials report that the average speed for the first two hours of racing today was a moderate 37.8kph.

Verbrugghe and Mesa Mesa maintain a 4:44 lead over the field.

3:05 p.m. — The two leaders continue to maintain an advantage of 4:38 over the field.

Just to keep up on the standings, Hector Mesa Mesa began the day in 176th place, 2:02 off of the lead and Ief Verbrugghe began in 46th place at 53 seconds.

Of course, we are sure that Mario Cipollini believes he prettiest in pink, so we’re sure the Aqua e Sapone team will be mounting a charge long before either of these two can make their break permanent.

3:12 p.m. — Mario Cipollini’s Aqua e Sapone team has now moved to the front and is leading the chase. The two men up front have an advantage of 4:29.

3:28 p.m.— With Zebras in pursuit, the two leaders are beginning to lose their advantage. Their lead has been trimmed to just 3:45.

3:37 p.m. — The two men in front remain about 3:15 ahead of the field.

By the way, a reminder for our American readers with cable. You can follow the race live on the Outdoor Life Network. Their broadcast has just kicked in.

For those of you who don’t or are trying to follow the race at work, stay tuned here and we’ll try to keep you updated.

3:51 p.m. — The two men up front have an advantage of 3:20, after the main field slowed slightly as they passed through the feed zone.

4:06 p.m. — At 140km (69km remaining), the two leaders have an advantage of 3:18.

4:18 p.m. — At km 150 (59km to go), the two men in the lead have an advantage of 1:28.

The average speed for the past four hours has been right around 36.4kph.

4:22 p.m. — The two leaders — Hector Mesa Mesa and Ief Verbrugghe — are back in the field. Everyone is back together as we come within 55km of the finish at Ans-Liege.

4:31 p.m. — Ivan Gotti has crashed. He and Alessio temmate Daniele De Paoli went off the road and are taking their time getting up.

4:34 p.m. — The crash victims are back up, chasing and closing in on the field.

4:49 p.m. — With just under 40km remaining, the field is entering the hilly region around Liege.

4:56 p.m. — Coast’s Fabrizio Guidi has taken the Intergiro sprint, just ahead of Phonak’s Strazzer.

There are 32km remaining.

Meanwhile, ace sprinter Ivan Quaranta is well off the back of the field and appears to be suffering in the hills.

5:06 p.m. — Popovych and Vierhouten are holding on to a small — 20 second — lead. Mapei has moved to the front and is leading the chase.

We are too close to the finish to expect such a move to survive.

5:16 p.m. — Popovych and Vierhouten are back in the field.

There are 16km remaining.

5:18 p.m. — René Haselbacher (A), Gerolsteiner is trying his luck off the front.

The speed is picking up, and the field is beginning to break apart.

There are 14km remaining.

5:23 p.m. — Haselbacher is back with main group — or the front part of it. Behind, the field is breaking apart as the peloton is approaching the 10km mark.

Race leader Mario Cipollini is in the front group.

5:26 p.m. — Flying into Liege, the field is coming up to the tough climb — the col du St. Nicholas — in about 2km. The speed is high and Saeco is moving up to try and put Simoni in position for the finish.

Of course, they’re not unchallenged in the front. Lotto is up there working hard.

5:29 p.m. — Francesco Casagrande has launched an attack on the beginning of the climb. He is joined by Garzelli and Rik Verbrugghe… the field is right on their heels.

Cipollini and McEwen are right there, too.

There are 4km remaining.5:32 p.m. — Casagrande is still driving the pace, with Garzelli and a small group with them.

Mapei’s Paolo Bettini has flatted… he’s off the back and won’t regain his position by the finish.

5:33 p.m. — Casagrande, Garzelli, Boogerd, Tyler Hamilton and others are in a group of ten in the lead with just 3km to go.

Cipo and the other sprinters are not in that group.

5:35 p.m. — The lead group of nine has a 25-second advantage over the Cipo’ group.

The leaders is just 1km to go.

5:36 p.m. — A second group of 15 has rejoined the leaders.

Garzelli has outsprinted Casagrande for the stage win.

5:38 p.m. With Cipollini finishing more than a minute back, Garzelli’s stage win may have put him in the overall lead.

By the way, CSC’s Tyler Hamilton finished in fifth. (His diary entry should be coming later today)

Preliminary stage results
1. Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Mapei 209 km in 5:25:12. (38.560 kph)
2. Francesco Casagrande (Ita)
3. Jens Heppner (G)
4. Davide Rebellin (Ita)
5. Tyler Hamilton (USA),
6. Michael Boogerd (Nl)
7. Rik Verbrugghe (Bel), all s.t.
8. Cadel Evans (Aus) at 0:03
9. Mykhaylo Khalilov (Ukr)
10. Juan Carlos Dominguez (Sp)
11. Fabrizio Guidi (Ita)
12. Dario Frigo (Ita)
13. Michele Scarponi (Ita)
14. Franco Pellizotti (Ita)
15. Andrea Noe (Ita), all s.t.

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